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soundbites
September 2009
Clarence Bucaro  •  Why Make Clocks
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Clarence Bucaro
New Orleans
Hyena Records

Cleveland, OH native Clarence Bucaro already has three albums under his belt, and his newest, New Orleans, was actually recorded back in 2004, but not released until now.

Recorded in a single six-hour session, these ten songs truly reflect the spirit of the Big Easy, particularly in ballads like “Abandoned Mine” and “On My Coast.” Bucaro has the perfect voice for such music — a jazzy, smoky falsetto reminiscent of Van Morrison or Nick Cave, and there’s no doubt his arrangements here speak from his heart.

While many might just stick this album in the “Easy Listening” category, they’d really be missing some excellent songwriting that mixes jazz, soul and folk in an adult, contemporary style.

With backup from Kirk Joseph on Sousaphone (best name for a musical instrument ever), Mike Burkart and Anders Osborne on piano and Doug Belote with some fantastic drum work, Bucaro has really mastered the mix of longing, sorrow and melancholy that makes the best of love songs, the ones that compel the listener to re-imagine their own lost relationships.

Really, the only complaint here is that these songs do get a little repetitive, but since they were all recorded in a single session, that’s not much of one; and given that ballads are really my thing, I still have to admit that this is a fun — if somewhat sorrowful — album to listen to. —Brandon Whitehead


Why Make Clocks
these things are ours
Sleep on the Floor Records

Des Moines musician Dan Hutchison has been making his own brand of indie music under the Why Make Clocks name since 1998, with a variety of other band mates to back him up. His latest album, these things are ours, makes excellent use of his current lineup, with Will Tarbox on drums, Eric Kennedy on guitar and Luke Tweedy on “additional noise” — whatever that is.

It should come as no surprise to compare Why Make Clocks with other indie bands like R.E.M, since Dan’s strong, melodic voice could easily double for Michael Stipe’s, not to mention that same powerful melancholy that runs through songs like the opener, “Self Impressions”. While it would be easy to call this music laid back, the fact is that this is folk music that transcends it’s own label into some remarkable and haunting music. The production value is excellent, courtesy of “additional noise” courtesy the Flat Black Studio in Iowa City, IA.

Even their lyrics are far more than just three lines repeated over and over (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but read on the liner notes as complete poems, as in this line from “Circles”:

You’ve got me running in circles,
trying to find the start,
to find what holds it together
and remove what could split us apart.

You can check these guys out at www.WhyMakeClocks.net where a few downloads of their songs are available; or better yet you can check them out live this Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Replay Lounge in Lawrence — but you should probably use a clock to make sure you’re on time. —Brandon Whitehead


Brandon Whitehead can be contacted at brandonw@kcactive.com

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